I’m well known in my personal life for making up words and/or changing definitions of things. But one thing in all facets of my life that has seemed to have eluded me is the true definition of a military spouse. The trouble with “defining” what a military spouse is comes from the vast array of types of people. But one thing that I encounter time and time again is that I am often told that I do not meet the standard definition of what people think a military spouse is and should encompass.
To me, though it’s not my defining characteristic, I am very much a military spouse. Being a reservists wife doesn’t exempt me from the military being the sister wife in my marriage, and if I’m being truly honest, I’m the mistress, not the Marine Corps. But when you ask most people about what it is to be a military spouse, what makes a successful spouse or even simply what we encounter, I am not it.
I do not PCS, which seems to be a defining characteristic of what a military spouse is. I don’t have kids, a corner stone to most military communities and spouse groups, and I’m not a stay at home wife, though I once was.
I consider myself to be a military spouse and a successful one at that. And not just because I have a career, but also as a wife to my husband and a house keeper, dog walker, personal chef, accountant, personal assistant and juggler of life duties extraordinaire. And I don’t think being married to a Reservist and never once PCSing or moving overseas makes me any less of a success story.
We can all have our own definitions of who we are, who we want to be, what it means to be successful and what it means to be a military spouse. But when you exclude others because of a slightly different circumstances or tell them that they don’t qualify as part of your group because you have decided that your definition is the only correct one, then you send a clear message to everyone that it’s ok to treat them this way too.
Reservist spouses often feel left out, not just because we don’t live near each other, don’t have groups to join on base and don’t qualify for the same benefits, but because most people define a military spouse as someone who is married to an Active Duty service member. I define them as being ANYONE who is married to a service member. And I don’t think I’m any less successful because I don’t balance my career with PCSing. I still battle deployments, unexpected and lengthy departures and a whole host of other military obstacles that our civilian counter parts cite as being unique to this lifestyle.
You don’t have to love my definition, many don’t. I have, unfortunately, encountered plenty of people who have told me that I don’t count as a military spouse. I just ask you to think about your own definition of what it means to be married to the military and consider if there are those who you are excluding. Or, what more, consider if there are those who would disagree with your definition because theirs excludes you.